The pace of EAR’s attacks in May 1977 was enough. The undaunted tenacity highlighted the Sheriffs’ and Sac. Police’s mutual inability to stop this maniac. Then, on top of this, EAR had now threatened to kill. This sent Sacramento over the edge. The reports commenced on May 18, 1977. The leading daily, the Bee, reported: “A sheriff’s spokesman told a press conference that although the rapist has caused no serious physical injuries [sic], they fear he may harm someone soon. The rapist told his victims to ‘tell the pigs’ that he would kill two people if the rape received bad press coverage. However, he told her husband he would kill if there was no coverage. Anybody who enters a home where people are sleeping with a gun or a knife is a potential killer, the spokesman stated.”
The predator’s psychiatric profile was reiterated. With a diagnosis of a “paranoid schizophrenic” came the image of an uncontrollable psychotic prowler. The profilers declared that the EAR was also in a “homosexual panic”— meaning by the standards of the time that: “The phrase ‘homosexual panic’ is used by psychiatrists to describe not an overt homosexual, but someone with the unconscious fear of being homosexual. He panics when the fear comes close to consciousness, they say.” The cause? According to the shrinkers, it was because of EAR’s “under endowment.” “Several victims have told investigators that the rapist has a very small sexual organ.”
On that very day the Bee also reported the undercurrents in the East Area. “East Area is Tense, But Rapist Fails to Carry out Threats.” Two people had not died as he had promised Victim 21, but EAR’s threat could still apply to the next victims. It was obvious by now that he would strike again. It was the prospect that the next victim would be murdered that caused the East Area to arm itself. Gun dealers were amazed at how many guns they were selling. Since January, 2,600 guns had been sold (double the usual), but now in May there was mass demand. The dealers were running out. But the customers weren’t too particular anymore. One gun shop owner declared: “These people are crazy. They want anything they can aim that will blow a hole in something.” Locksmiths were working long hours installing more locks on homes, for homeowners who couldn’t get a gun.
One wife told the Bee how she had lain awake at night for the last two weeks just watching for the EAR. In order to do this she admitted that she takes two hour naps in the afternoon to help her stay awake through most of her night vigil. She was scared of guns, but she admitted her husband slept with one next to him and so did her son. Her actions in many ways reveal how the East Area passed along more information amongst themselves than they read in the newspapers. So far, guns hadn’t stopped this guy. Everybody knew that a number of the victims’ husband’s were armed and still EAR silently padded up to the bed and stood over them.
The panic in the East Area cannot be fully appreciated without understanding that town halls had been held for months already (the picture above may be from one in late 1976) at local public schools, with the sheriffs advising residents on what to be on the lookout for. At one such meeting a husband complained about how the sheriffs weren’t doing their job. Supposedly, this was the husband of Victim 21, who was attacked months later after he had stood up and complained at the Del Dayo Elementary School meeting. Whether true or not, the whole idea that EAR had attacked someone who had decided to stand out only increased the fear that EAR was a crazed phantom amongst them.
On May 19 the Bee had upped the reward and now posted a $15,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the maniac. On that same day an ad was placed in the newspapers advertising for homeowners who had Citizen Band radios, the new fad of the mid 1970s. The ad naturally attracted the news. The next day there was a feature in the Sacramento Union. “CBers to Hunt East Area Rapist.”
Three hundred persons with citizens’ band radios say they will start prowling the streets tonight looking for the East Area Rapist. Both the police and the sheriff’s departments wish they’d stay home. A new group, the East Area Rapist Surveillance Patrols (EARS), announced Thursday its intention to help. Law enforcement regulars feel they will only be in the way.
Quite frankly, the sheriffs feared a lynching. While they wouldn’t say this publicly, spokesman Bill Miller said the CBers would prove a hindrance to law enforcement. “Ninety percent of these people would probably be all right, but you might get some people carrying guns, and an innocent person might get hurt.” The upshot was that the Sheriff insisted that the CB vigilantes would not be allowed to cruise together. Two were allowed per vehicle and they could not convoy.
There was good reason for sheriffs to be worried about an innocent young man meeting a bad fate. Along with these newspaper reports there was issued for the first time a composite of the dreaded suspect.
What has become known as the notoriously botched composite.
This composite appears to be based on the description, under hypnosis, of Victim No. 15 and, as it says, “numerous bits” of information. Nevertheless, it remained only an “artist’s conception.” A profiler working for the sheriffs had submitted a departmental memo on May 2, 1977, stating that a composite exists which was gleaned from a Rancho Cordova victim (16 year old teen, so it would be Victim 15) under hypnosis. However, Victim 17 had also been taken to Placerville to undergo hypnosis in hopes she could recall the features of the young man who had stalked her residence by car and watched her while she, in a skimpy bikini top, had washed her car in the driveway one day.
The composite above appeared with every article, and it continued to appear with every article over the whole state. Behind the scenes, however, there was little faith in it at the Sheriff’s Department. What good was hypnosis? The caption reflects their lack of faith when it warns every feature presented could be different.
In substance, the above composite reveals only one thing: EAR had no real distinguishing characteristics. Nevertheless, the communities looked for someone matching this description. In essence, the vigilantes were looking for a round face young man with his hair parted in the middle. How many fit that description? It would take a long time, but the Sheriff Department would later admit the composite was completely lacking in credibility.
The precipitous act of releasing this sketch underscores for us more than the desperation of the Sheriff Department to give some indication that this villain was not just a phantom in a ski mask. It reflects their lack of faith in other composites, for surely others had been made by this time. But none, apparently, had been made in circumstances that removed all doubt that the sketch represented anything more than a young man walking in the neighborhood. With Victim 17 at least it seems that the composite reflected a man who was showing interest in the victim before-the-fact of her rape. Cruising by in a car also sounded like the same MO that Victim 1 had described. No other victims had reported seeing a young man cruising past and gaping at them, then conspicuously turning away.
There could have been another problem. A couple of these earlier composites had been made by Sacramento Police, not by the Sheriffs. A composite had been drawn of a young man seen jumping fences in the La Riviera area back in January 1977, within a few days of Victim 11’s attack there. Supposedly, two interesting composites had been done after the Ripon Court shooting in February 1977. If these, below, are genuine they commend Sacramento Police’s attention to routine, but only one has been released with full bona fides and it is not what is purported to be.
The composite, top left, with short hair, purports to be the La Riviera suspect, taken on January 22, 1977. The next is popularly attributed to Rod Miller, the victim of the Ripon Court shooting (February 16, 1977). However, it is redacted and there is no proof. The last one is also credited to Rod Miller, but it is not redacted and dated to February 11, 1977, about a week before the shooting, so that it cannot possibly represent the “lurker.”
Sac Co. Sheriffs had made one from November 1976 and another (undated in its released form) from 1976. They also had one from March 1977. The most interesting of these was the November 1976 composite. Apparently its relation is to one of the attacks in October or November. This showed a long-faced young man, with hair that appears to be a wig. It came down to his shoulders, but the composite does not make it look natural. (This may be the fault of the composite).
Possible EAR November 1976
Robert Neville did a commendable job turning the above composite into looking like a picture.
Left, a very poor quality composite claiming to be from 1976 but inappropriately redacted, even of its date, so that it is impossible to associate it with any particular attack. It presents the same hairstyle of the February 11, 1977, composite erroneously attributed as representing the Ripon Court Shooter. Right, a composite supposedly from March 1977 of a suspicious young man, also redacted. Hair is slightly longer.
From the vantage of hindsight we can compare the above composites here. Of these composites, the “February 11, 1977 Composite” matches the long face of the “November 1976 Composite.” The undated 1976 composite also matches in hairstyle to the Fed 11, 1977 composite, but it appears to have a shorter, rounder face. If the tag line claiming that Rod Miller is the source of the “Ripon Court Shooter” composite is to be believed, then the Ripon Court Shooter had a rounder face and noticeably longer hair than the La Riviera Composite of only a few weeks before.
Thus the reader here is telescoped back to May 1977 to share in the Sheriff (and no doubt Sac. Police) consternation as to what exactly this night predator really looked like.
Do these represent EAR, the freak sexual terrorist? Is this the actual face that had launched the hysteria? Which one? At the time the Sheriffs must have had their doubts. Whatever the reason, the anodyne composite, based on hypnotic recall and other “bits” and “glimpses” was the one released and it would dominate the press reports.
This is a huge sore point. Both vigilantes and the general populace were looking at this composite. Store windows carried this image. Telecasts had this as an insert while the news anchor warned people to be on the lookout. This was EAR. Insofar as all Sacramento was concerned, this anodyne image was the dreaded night stalker.
Each night, and warm nights in Sac. County they were, the vigilantes patrolled the streets, CB receiver in hand. Ideally they were looking for some young man who matched this image. In truth, they were looking for any young man. Hair parted in the middle was the fad. How many young men fit the description?— basically almost every kind except, ironically, a young man with a long face, the only similarity in a couple of the composites.
The standing Bee reward had been $15,000. But now it was upped by a dentist, James Gilmartin, in the Sky Parkway area in southern Sacramento area. The reward was now a whopping $30,000 dollars, a tempting prospect for anybody. Gilmartin had the money. He had two offices, one in Arden (1749 Arden Way at Arden Fair) in the East Area, and one on Florin Road (5514 Florin) in the south by Sky Parkway.
More vigilantes took to the streets, but the CB association condemned their leader and the whole organization. This caused a bit of a flurry in the press, but none of it really reflected what was going on at night on the streets. This was a different image, something not seen since Jack the Ripper had sent London’s East End into a panic in the “autumn of terror” in 1888, where vigilantes tried to take control of the night. For Sacramento there were no mobs of angry people carrying torches. Instead cars and trucks slowly cruised along the streets. Some sat on the curb, in darkened areas, two men inside, CB antennas prominent on the back.
In some instances it would have been hard to tell if the occupants were law enforcement or not. Hundreds of man hours were being spent by both Sac. Police and sheriff deputies, and even highway patrol, off duty. On their own time they cruised along or walked the streets, paused under the enveloping clutches of trees, and peered from the darkness over the silent streets, into the shadows beyond the cones of light. They waited . . . and listened.
In a viable location for another EAR attack, in Rancho Cordova, sheriffs had rented a house. A man/woman sheriff team posed as renters and waited inside (I think the house was on a canal). Each night they waited, guns in hand, for the night predator to jimmy a door handle.
Sheriffs were up the tree, literally. Deputies perched themselves up tall trees, wedged in the thickest branches, armed with binoculars, hoping to get a bird’s eye view of probable blocks where analysis indicated EAR would likely prowl.
Graduation was at hand. Summer break was about to happen. This was supposed to be a time of joy and celebration.
It had almost been a year since EAR had begun. All Sac. County waited for the next strike. This would be the one where EAR could kill the victims.
There wasn’t much of May left. But EAR did not forego striking. However, he struck a new location. He must have stalked this new location quickly. It was far afield from any place he had been before. . . .and it wasn’t too far from James Gilmartin’s Florin Road dentist practice. There was no stopping this creep.
Attack No. 22